Japanese people love to travel. Almost all the people I know here have been to at least three or four foreign countries. Popular destinations are Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Guam, Germany, Hong Kong (when it used to be a country) and Hawaii (some think it is a country). But I’ve heard of only a few who have actually been around Japan. It seems the domestic travel boom started only recently.
But due to a host of reasons, including overseas travel safety concerns, many Japanese have started sightseeing around Japan. Of course, the shinkansen is still the favorite mode of transport. But many tour companies have been offering tourists a cheaper alternative, bus tours.
Five or so years ago, I received a travel brochure from a friend. She asked me if I wanted to go on a bus tour. It was a few weeks before the cherry blossom season, so I was eager to go somewhere. She suggested Aomori and Akita in Tohoku, and I quickly agreed, as I’d always wanted to visit. We got a package that included round-trip bus fare, breakfast and lunch bento, entrance passes to the museums and even a remembrance picture, all for Y14,000 (*Note: Prices haven’t changed that much in the last 5 years). Most trips to the area are in the Y65,000-range during peak cherry blossom season. Of course, we only took a day tour and we didn’t get a luxury liner. But then, we had the same hanami (花見, cherry blossom viewing) experience as other tourists staying in expensive hotels. I’d recommend bus tours to anyone looking for a cheap way to see Japan.